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VA Head Details 'Largest' Ever Restructuring at Agency

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Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald announced a “the largest restructuring in the department’s history” one day before Veterans Day. At the center of the changes are the ability for veterans to receive care outside of the VA.

McDonald also said that he has received one report that recommends the firing of 35 people and another report that recommends that 1,000 people are let go, signifying major changes are needed at the agency that provides service for nearly 5.5 million people and employs more than 250,000. Firing for all of the 1,000 people, however, might not necessarily happen as it’s a multistage, time-consuming process to fire government employees. But McDonald said on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” Sunday that “a lot of people” are on administrative leave.

At a Washington Post forum on Monday, McDonald, who has been on the job for less than four months, spoke about the newly created Choice Act provides $5 billion for additional doctors and nurses, a resource that both internal and external reports deemed necessary, and another $10 billion to provide veterans with easy access to health care either at a VA or a non-VA facility. Congress passed the legislation in August authorizing the VA to make the changes.

McDonald, a former executive at Proctor & Gamble, replaced former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki after it became known that some VA facilities failed to provide timely and necessary care for patients.

McDonald said the VA has worked to reform its bureaucracy quickly, pointing to the completion of 1 million more appointments between June to September than the same time last year.